The county seat of Oklahoma's Potawatomi County, Shawnee is home to about 30,000 residents. Located just a half-hour's drive from Oklahoma City, Shawnee combines the benefits of access to a metropolitan area with a small-town feel and rural setting. Historic buildings, several museums, local casinos, outdoor recreation, annual events and an active community make Shawnee an attractive place to live or visit.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The majority of Shawnee's revenue comes from manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and information services. The manufacturing industry employs about 3,000 people.
The largest employer in Shawnee is Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which operates the FireLake Grand Casino and the FireLake Grand Travel Plaza, among other enterprises. The Citizen Potawatomi Native American tribe also resides between the cities of Shawnee and Tecumseh. The tribe population numbers 26,000 and is the ninth largest in the country.
Some of the other major employers in town include Al-Ko Kober Co., APAC Oklahoma Inc., Ball Pipe and Supply, Belshe Trailer Manufacturing Inc., Central Plastics Co., Eaton Corp., Exxon/Mobil Chemical Co., Shawnee Public Schools, Unity North/South Hospitals and Wolverine Tube Co.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The city of Shawnee accommodates a mostly urban population of more than 30,000. Neighborhoods and districts of Shawnee accommodate around 12,000 houses out of which more than 11,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than half are owner occupied while renters occupy the remainder. The median home price in Shawnee is slightly lower than the statewide median.
Downtown Shawnee still reflects its agricultural, railroad, and oil dynasty roots and continues to be a business and social hub for the city. Downtown features brick streets and historic buildings, including the Federal National Bank Building and the Masonic Building.
The Shawnee Independent Public School District has eight public schools, and the city is also home to two universities:
- St. Gregory's University is a private, liberal arts school affiliated with the Catholic Church. In total, there are 800 undergraduate students between the Shawnee and Tulsa campuses. The school offers both associate and bachelor's degree programs.
- Oklahoma Baptist University is a Christian school with more than 1,700 enrolled students. It offers both undergraduate and graduate programs and was ranked as a "best value" among America's colleges by the Princeton Review in 2008.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Ritz Theatre: The Ritz Theatre, located on West Main Street in Shawnee, has a rich history dating back to 1897. First a facility for storing dry goods, it became a Vaudeville theater before later exhibiting the first talking motion pictures for the city. Now the Ritz hosts various stage performances throughout the year and remains a vibrant part of Shawnee culture.
- Shawnee Little Theatre: This community theater, which opened in 1967, has received awards for its excellence. The theater puts on four plays a season and was chosen to participate in a national festival.
- Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art: Founded by a Benedictine Monk, the museum is considered to be one of the oldest in the state. It has collections from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, ancient Egypt and Mexico, and contemporary art. The museum also runs special exhibitions.
- Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center: The 30,000-square-foot Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center features a museum, genealogical research facility, library, meeting room and more. The center's Long Room, which can fit up to 1,000 people, is used to host tribal meetings and other events.
- Jasmine Moran Children's Museum: This museum, designed especially for children, includes an imaginary town that can be enjoyed by children ages 2 to 12. The museum also allows children to discover and explore various occupations. The surgery suite, for example, offers children an opportunity to see what an actual surgery is like.
- Santa Fe Depot Museum: The Depot, built in 1904, is a landmark example of the train stations built along the route to the old West. Its striking Romanesque architecture (complete with a castle-like turret) make the building a popular photographic subject, and it also provides a home for the Historical Society of Pottowatomie County Museum.
- Country Cottage Primitive Lavender Farm: The cottage and farm offer a peaceful retreat for both tourists and the community. The cottage sells a variety of arts and crafts, Shaker furniture, candles, and multiple lavender-scented products. Visitors can also pick their own lavender by the bundle on the farm.
- Shawnee High School Alumni Museum: Shawnee High School shows its pride through its memorabilia museum. At the museum, visitors can find items dating back to the 1920s, as well as memorabilia associated with famous graduates Gordon Cooper, an astronaut, and Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry.
Unusual points of interest near Shawnee include:
- Tecumseh Historical Society Museum (offering a glimpse of Oklahoma's frontier past);
- Prague Historical Museum (reflecting the cultural heritage of Czechoslovakian settlers)
- National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague (visited by pilgrims from all over the country).
Shawnee has a varied assortment of facilities for outdoor enjoyment, including many city parks (including a shooting range and a tennis complex); several golf courses (including Fire Lake, Shawnee Country Club, and Persimmon Hills); and water activities at Twin Lakes and the Wes Watkins Reservoir.
The Santa Fe Depot is the site of many special events during the year, including a Woodcarver's Festival, as well as shows featuring dolls, quilts, and Christmas ornaments.